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top-10-strength-training-movesBurn More Calories Than Cardio with these Toning Strength Training Exercises!

Each of these strength training exercises targets both large and small muscle groups.  While some strength training moves are more heart effective than others, all together, these exercises make up a total body and heart exercise regimen you can perform 3-5 times per week for a sculpted, shapely body, as long as you keep in mind that healthy, nutritious eating is a must as well.

Calorie-Burning Strength Training Exercises

1. The Squat

All trainers have clients perform these moves as part of a strength training routine at some point because they work and are a functional move.
Basic Squat: Keep toes pointed forward with hips moving back on the sit position.  Try to keep knees behind the toes and knees parallel. 

  • Level 1 - hands on knees - hold for 3-5 counts repeat 10-15 reps
  • Level 2 - hands reach over head - hold for 3-5 counts  repeat 15-20 reps
  • Level 3 hands with weights - add weights hands at shoulder height - repeat 1 minute timed set

2. Mountain Climber

This total body move works on heart rate, core, shoulders, legs and back.  Start in a plank position with fingers pointing forward and hips in line.  Remember not to arch  the back by keeping the abdominals drawn in toward the spine.

  • Level 1 - hips slightly higher than shoulders and run in place - Time set for 1 minute
  • Level 2 - hips even with shoulders and run in place1 minute, rest 30 seconds and repeat
  • Level 3 - hips lower than shoulder and arms slightly bent - run in place 1 minute, rest 30 seconds and repeat 5-8 times

3. Plank

This move is a great way to tone the shoulders and core.  Focus on holding this position steady and increasing the time held each time . The world record is held by 72 year old Betty Lou Sweeney at just over 38 minutes! Start with arms under shoulders to a plank position as noted above.

  • Level 1 - hold for 5 - 30 seconds from knees repeat 2-3 times
  • Level 2 - hold for 5- 30 seconds on toes and repeat 5 reps
  • Level 3 - hold and alternate arm reach forward for a timed one minute set

4. Push-up

A great basic and effective move for everyone.  Women should note that this exercise focuses on the mid section more than the chest due to the different body shape/weight distribution.  Start with hands wider than shoulder ( elbow distance apart ) with hands directly under the elbows.  Feet should be slight apart for more advanced, wider for beginners.

  • Level 1- Perform  from knees bent and push from floor - 6-8 reps
  • Level 2  - Perform from toes hands wide 8-12 reps
  • Level 3  - Perform from toes elbows by ribs 12-15 reps

5. Side Plank

This move is similar to forward plank but emphasizes more oblique and low back strengthening.  A great basic to start with and advanced move really challenges the entire body.

  • Level 1 -  Start on side with one knee bent and lean on elbow under shoulder, top arm on floor in front to help lift hips.  lift hips for for 3 counts lower and repeat 10-12 reps
  • Level 2  - knees bent one leg extended elbow under shoulder, top arm on side, lift hips for 3 counts lower and repeat 15-20 reps
  • Level 3  - legs straight to side, elbow under shoulder, top arm reaches toward sky as you   lift hips for for 3 counts lower and repeat 10-12 reps *Add top leg raise to challenge entire body balance.

6. Bicycle

This core move was found more effective by the American Council on Exercise than crunches on targeting the core.  Important to keep legs at 45 degree angle or higher.  Lowering the legs toward the floor can be harmful to the lower back.

  • Level 1  - Start with feet on floor - rotate elbows toward ceiling alternate 16-20 reps
  • Level 2  - Start with knees lifted in the air and  alternate opposite elbow towards knee alternate sides 16-20 reps
  • Level 3  - Start with feet in air alternate opposite elbow towards knee to each side 16-20 reps

7. Waist Twist

This is a great core move that really targets core. It looks much easier than it is. Start with knees bent to the side and right arm extended. Roll up off the floor reaching your elbow toward the left knee.  Pivot off the elbow to engage more of the obliques.

  • Level 1  - Knees on floor reach up to opposite side with elbow pointing towards ceiling - perform 12-15 reps on each side.
  • Level 2 - With knees in the air, reach up with straight arm to opposite side. Perform 15-20 reps on each side
  • Level 3 - With legs extended. Reach up with straight arm to opposite side. Perform 16-20 reps

8. Bridge

This basic move is the most important move for anyone with back pain.  It strengthens the glutes and hamstrings which support this sensitive joint.  Start on back with knees bent and hands at the side.  Be certain to slightly pull the pelvis towards the rib cage so that you are not arching the lower back.

  • Level 1 - hips lifted off floor perform 20-30 reps
  • Level 2 -  hips lift with leg lift extended to ceiling. lower and alternate sides - lift hips, lift leg perform 20 reps on each side
  • Level 3 - hips lift and march keeping hips lifted alternate marching in place 1-2 minute timed sets or 50-60 reps

9. Swimmer

A move you might have done in  Pilates class, this is another super spine supporter.  Start face down with arms and legs extended.  In each lift, think extension and reach rather than height from the floor. 

  • Level 1 - hands and legs lift from floor hold for 8-10 counts repeat 8-12 times
  • Level 2 - alternate hand and foot - right hand left foot then switch sides - repeat slowly 1 minute
  • Level 3 - swimming with light weights - alternate hand/foot lifts with light weights for 1 minute repeat 3-5 times

10. All Four Reach

Final move is also a favorite in Yoga or Pilates class.  Start on hands and knees when hands directly under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips.

  • Level 1 - Start by rounding the spine  and then release to neutral Hold each position 5 counts repeat 6-8 reps
  • Level 2 - From starting position, reach one arm forward and opposite leg hold 2 counts and alternate sides 8-12 reps
  • Level 3 - Start in a plank position with legs extended and arms supporting the upper body,  reach one arm forward and opposite leg hold 30 seconds  and repeat on the other side repeat 2-3

Don’t make excuses, jump into your workouts or try something new... “Muscle confusion” made famous by P90X, has some truth to it.  And remember “to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results is truly “insanity”.

For more fitness tips, please visit www.andreametcalf.com


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